Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Win An Autographed Copy of Julie Lessman's "A Passion Most Pure!"

The day is finally here, and I'm excited.

CFBA is featuring Julie Lessman's "A Passion Most Pure" this week, and I have to say that I devoured this story like the world's finest dark chocolate. And, that's saying something because in recent years I haven't been drawn to historicals very often. But, two of my writing friends have worked to change all that. Maureen Lang is one, and Julie, today's featured author, is the other.

Julie has very kindly agreed to send the winner of the drawing I'm holding on this blog their very own, pristine, autographed copy of "Passion," for their own. My own copy is dog-eared and marked up LOL. I feel like those publishers who put stickers on their books that say "guaranteed you'll like this book or your money back." Well, you won't have to ask for your money back if you win this book, nor will you want to!


Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. A Passion Most Pure is her first novel.

So lets get on to my interview with Julie, and then I'll give details on how to enter the drawing for the book.

1. Welcome to A Writer's Journey, Julie. You said you started A Passion Most Pure when you were twelve years old after reading Gone With the Wind. How much of the story is still in there and what did that entail at the time? Obviously it wasn’t full of the passion that you include now, was it?

Uh … actually, there WAS a lot of sensuality and passion in my first attempt back then. You see, I've ALWAYS been this way—obsessed with romance! J I used to sneak downstairs at night when I was kid and watch romance movies on the TV when my parents were sleeping.

That's why after reading Gone With the Wind at the age of 12, I went CRAZEEE and started writing my own novel, which I titled “When Tomorrow Comes” (now a Janette Oke title, how weird is that?). Back then, the story still entailed the love triangle between Faith and her sister (whose name was “Del,” short for Delatha … yeah, don’t ask me what I was thinking!) and the bad-boy hero, whose name was—I’m even ashamed to admit it—Bart! And just like A Passion Most Pure, the story began in Boston and traveled to Ireland, with ONE major difference, as indicated in the first line of the original book: Patrick O’Connor was dead. Obviously Patrick (the father in the story) is very much alive in the updated version, especially when he and his wife clash over Charity’s discipline!

2. A Passion Most Pure has been published in the CBA market, but you have said you have a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational.” What do you mean by that?

I am writing for the CBA market because my books will always be ingrained with a strong spiritual message. But I have to admit, I have a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” which I hope would cross over into the ABA. Now, what do I mean by “Mainstream Inspirational”? Well, according to the American Religious Identification Survey conducted by the Barna Group, “nine out of ten women nationwide consider themselves to be Christian.” The majority of these women fall into a category I would define as “Mainstream Christianity"—women who proclaim God, but not always in their sexuality. Many of these women want compelling novels with strong romantic tension and often turn to the secular market to satisfy this need. But recently, Bethany House came out with a line of historicals they refer to as “edgy Inspirational,” which is a good term to describe my books—novels of passion about real people with real emotions, desires and temptations, doing their best to deal with them according to God’s precepts.

3. You’ve joked about being the “Queen of Rejections”—can you tell us a little about that?

Uh, yeah … anyone who attended the 2005 ACFW Conference will remember me as the poor slob who waved her hands wildly in the back of the room when Brandilyn Collins asked who had the most rejections in a year. I won hands-down with 19 (at that time) and went on to garner in excess of 45 (both agent and publisher rejections, including three received AFTER I signed a 3-book contract with Revell Publishing!). Even my agent, Natasha Kern, blanched a bit when she first signed me, realizing after the ink was dry just how many times I’d been rejected. I believe the word she used was “daunting.” But apparently not too daunting for her amazing skills as an agent because she landed a contract for me within six months.

4. LOL, I remember that conference! And now look where you are. What an encouragement to other authors who are still waiting for "the call."

Your series is called the Daughters of Boston, so I assume the second sister, Charity, is the heroine of Book 2, A Passion Redeemed. I’m a bit curious as to how you are going to have a heroine that readers love to hate! Was it difficult to write Charity’s story?

Difficult? Oh, no, absolutely not! It was the easiest of the three books to write (a 500-page book that I wrote in two months while working my part-time job!). A Passion Redeemed will release in Sept. 2008 (in time for the ACFW book signing ... YEAH!), and I have to tell you that it is my absolute FAVORITE of the three books in the series.

Why? I just love, love, LOVE Charity—she is so wonderfully flawed and SO fun to redeem! Yes, you feel like slapping her now, (I actually received a reader e-mail asking me to slap Charity for her) but I promise you will LOVE her before the book is done (and the hero, too, of course—be still, my heart!). A Passion Redeemed reminds me a lot of the old-time movies where the hero and the heroine butt heads like crazy (think “A Quiet Man” with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara or “It Happened One Night” with Clark Cable and Claudette Colbert). In fact, it was so fun and easy to write, that I feel as if I hit my stride in this book, making it a very FAST read, according to my sister who finished it in 8-10 hours.

5. You label A Passion Most Pure as a “Family Saga Historical Romance,” and I can certainly see why—the family plays a very important role, and readers fall in love with each and every one of them. Do they play an important role in the next two books in the series as well?

Oh, my, YES!! And I want you to know that I love these characters SO much, that they factor heavily into each of the three books. I love series, but one of my pet peeves is when I fall in love with a hero and heroine in book 1, and then they are only mentioned in books 2 and 3. Not in this chickadee’s books! Each book in this series gets thicker and more complicated because I incorporate lots of sub-stories about the subordinate characters.

Besides, I love writing about families in depth, exploring the emotional highs and lows of a large family (as one of 13 kids, I wonder why!). I especially enjoy incorporating the love affair between the mother and father of the family because that is so critically important in today’s society and so overlooked. You should never stop having a love affair with your spouse—it’s the greatest thing a mom and dad can give to their children—a tender and passionate love between each other. And it’s so much fun for me to incorporate in my books the wonderful lessons I’ve learned with my own husband … uh, humbling though they may be! J

6. High point, low point as a writer?

Mmm … a definite low point would have to be the time my husband and daughter hid contest scores under my daughter’s mattress. You see, after that hormone-cancer scare a few years back, I went off hormones. BIG MISTAKE!! I was crying nonstop, and everything ticked me off. So, for my state of mind (and theirs!), my family remained silent while I badgered the poor Contest Coordinator from the Heart of the Rockies contest (who’s out of rehab now, I believe). I didn’t see those scores until three months later, AFTER I went back on hormones and my husband let it slip about the mattress contraband. I wrote about it on the following Seekers blog—just scroll down to Oct. 18:

High point? Oh, man, it was the moment I got “the call” from my agent. I was in the middle of praying with my prayer partners when my cell phone rang. My heart dropped when I heard Natasha’s voice, but when she told me the pub board went great and she was 99% sure we had a sale, I started crying. I repeated everything she said so my prayer partners could hear, and they were screaming and jumping up and down in the background. Believe me, after 42 rejections and another publisher giving me a slice-n-dice rejection the week before, this phone call was balm to my battered soul.

7. In the acknowledgements at the back of A Passion Most Pure, you mention “Windowsill Jesus.” Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Well, as a child, I had an imagination like a runaway train! And, of course, I was a very emotional kid (big surprise there). I wanted to relate to Jesus on an intimate and personal level—you know, see Him … feel Him? So I would press my nose against the screen of my bedroom window and squint toward my sister’s bedroom right next to mine. I’d imagine I see Jesus’ sandals kicking in the breeze along with His long, white dress as he sat on her windowsill. That image comforted me so much as a child—and took a lot of heat from me as a bitter teen—that I never forgot it. Through at all (even agnosticism in my early twenties), Windowsill Jesus never let me go, finally bringing me into a truly intimate and personal relationship with God at the age of 23, which became THE turning point for a very lonely and very angry little girl. I owe Him my life.

8. Key advice for other writers?

Get connected!! Join ACFW, FHL, RWA, critique groups and make writer friends! We’re an odd breed and need to interface with our own kind. One of the best things that happened to me as a writer is connecting with 14 very talented ladies whose names I butted up against over and over again in contests. We formed a group called the Seekers for contest junkies like ourselves. We now have a blog that talks about “The road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.” All of these women are award-winning writers, the best of the best. When we started our group two years ago, two of the 15 were newly contracted. Now, half are published/contracted, and I am quite certain the other half are close behind.

9. Parting words?

Well, first I want to thank you, Pam, for hosting this interview—it was a lot of fun! And one of my favorite ways to close an interview is to share this really cool quote I found that some people attribute to Maya Angelou: “A woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.” I absolutely LOVE this quote because it is the total essence of what my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure, is all about, and I hope and pray this message will resonate with every person who picks up my book. God bless!

Have Julie and I whetted your appetite to read A Passion Most Pure? You can order it at Amazon, but you may want to hold off and throw your name into the proverbial hat to win a signed copy here. All you need to do is leave a comment on this blog article. PLEASE, PLEASE, BE SURE TO LEAVE CONTACT INFORMATION. It is most frustrating to have a comment left without any means of contacting the person if they win.

I will draw the name next Monday, February 4, 2008.

Thanks, Julie, for visiting here today. It's been fun!


Pamela J said...

Julie said, "Yes, you feel like slapping her now,...but..."
This just confirms it for me!! I KNOW I would love the next book out too since this is about the second of Julie's books, coming in Sept. How many people in YOUR life have you wanted to just slap, but that person some time later comes to know the Lord and turns out as one of His greatest instruments??? I've GOT to know about this girl to that fullest "want to slap her" person so I can REMEMBER there are others out there who need the Lord, and that there is hope for all. Sometimes we forget that part, the hope for all. Please enter me in this drawing. I can hardly wait to begin reading. Thanks. Pam
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

Cherie J said...

Great interview! Please enter me in the drawing for this wonderful book.

Carolynn W. said...

I love the quote Julie mentioned! I had to write it down here so I would remember it. I hope and pray that I can one day be like in tune with God!
Julie, I'm glad that you landed a contract and that we now have the privilige of reading your book(s)!
Please enter me to win the book, thanks!

Hannah said...

i've been dying to read this book! please enter me! hsmuda[at]gmail[dot]com
great interview!

Julie Lessman said...

Pam J, Cherie J and Carolynn, so good to "see" you guys again! Thanks for your comments.

In tune with God? Some days yes, some days no, but when you get to be as old as me and applying God's precepts (or trying to) for soooo many years, auto pilot becomes the habit ... thank God!!


Livvie said...

:) nice interview, and yes, my appetite is whetted! Pleas enter me into this contest, christianlit at hotmail dot com :) thanks very much, and keep on writing Julie!

Livvie said...

my computer froze, so i don't know if my comment got through - as i've said my appetite is whetted throughtly and i hope i can get a copy! please enter me into the contest! christianlit at hotmail dot com :) thank you kindly!

Pam Meyers said...

As you can see your comment made it through, but I have no contact info should your name be drawn. Please come back and give contact info or I won't be able to include you in the drawing.


Pam Meyers said...

Pamela J

I don't have contact info for you either.

Please everyone, leave contact info or I can't include you in the drawing.

Carole said...

I have read so much about this book and can't wait to read it. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!


Pam Meyers said...

You're in, Carole. Thanks for entering and leaving your contact info too!

tetewa said...

I'd love to be included in the drawing!

Julie Lessman said...


Two of the most persistent posters I have seen for A Passion Most Pure are Pamela J and Livvie, so I have found their e-mails on other sites where they posted.

Here they are:

Pamela J: cepjwms at yahoo dot com

Livvie: christianlit at hotmail dot com

Gosh, I hope their persistence pays off!! :)


Julie Lessman said...

Carol and Tetewa, thanks for stopping by!


Pam Meyers said...

Thanks, Julie, for saving the day and providing contact info for Livie and Pamela J. Their names will go into the "hat." I was afraid they wouldn't check back here before drawing day. :-)

Livvie said...

Thank you very super much Julie! (and you too Pam).(shakes fist at silly computer)

ladystorm said...

I would love to be entered into this drawing, Please.


stampedwithgrace said...

please enter me in the drawing, thanks!

Crystal Laine Miller said...

Wow, I have heard so much buzz about this book, and Julie writes in the genre that I love most, that I have to sign up for a chance to win! Thanks, Pam and Julie!

Pam, love your web site--it's homey and beautiful. Nice job!


Mary Connealy said...

Julie I loved this interview. I felt like I could hear you talking. I loved A Passion Most Pure and it was so fun to read at the same time it was just a really important book. Wise and strong, and I don't think I'm the one who told you to slap Charity, but it's a really good idea!

Don't enter me in the contest please, I've already got two copies because I'm loaning one of them out.

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, Mary, you sweetie! Thanks for your great comment ... and Crystal, too, along with all you great gals who posted -- Pam and I really appreciate it!

Oh, and consider Charity slapped ... several times! :)


Janna said...

Oh, please enter me... Julie is on par with Louisa May Alcott and I think this book will be as beloved as "Little Women" (I just hope it becomes as widely read :-)

ryanx6 @ msn dot com

Anonymous said...

I have read alot of good things about this book and can't wait to read it. Please enter me in your drawing.

Debby Brown

bigguysmama said...

Thank you for sharing your interview with Julie. Please enter me in the drawing to win her book. Thanks!


Jennifer AlLee said...

Thanks to Julie and Pam for another great interview!

Please enter me in the drawing. I'm gonna get this book one way or the other... if I don't win it, I'll buy it for sure.

Be blessed!

jallee725 [at] hotmail [dot] com

misswrite said...

I'd love to read this one. Please sign me up!

Carrie Turansky said...

Thanks for a great interview. Please enter me in the drawing.

William G. said...

William G.

wgjones3 @

Patty said...

I keep hearing about this book everywhere and saw in the CBD catalog even. I hope I win so I can read it soon. Thanks for the opportunity Pam.

pleblanc_1 at charter dot net

Anonymous said...

This looks really good!! PLEASE enter me into this drawing.

Nora Stlaurent

Julie Lessman said...

Janna said: "Julie is on par with Louisa May Alcott and I think this book will be as beloved as "Little Women"

Gulp, Janna, you're not swilling strong cold medication are you?? WOW, what a compliment, and I'll take it whether it's true or not! THANK YOU!

And thanks to EVERYONE who took the time to post a comment ... and to Pam Meyers for having me here. This has been a fun blog to be on!


Virginia Smith said...

Pick me! Pick me!

Ginny Smith -

Adventure Writer said...

Great interview! I'm a writer who is not yet published and I have recieved several rejections. I am entering the Genesis and I asked my sister (who is also an unpublished writer) and my husband to read over the final draft of the first 15 pages of my young adult book. They slashed it to bits and my sister went so far as to say I should change the gender of the main character! That's AFTER I have already finished the whole novel. I felt awful - truly no good. Hearing about Julie's rejections has helped me realize that I should not quit. I plan to go ahead and enter my work, hoping for useful criticsm of it. Thank you so much! A Passion Most Pure is on my 'to buy' list.

Adventure Writer said...

Oops! I assumed that the box I checked below with my email address would allow it to be provided to you. Here is my contact info just in case:

Thank you!!


Lucie said...

Great interview! I look forward to reading Julie's books - all of them! Please enter me in the contest for A Passion Most Pure.
LucieInCA [at] aol [dot] com

Lucie said...

Great interview! I am looking forward to reading all of Julie's books! Please enter me in the contest for A Passion Most Pure.
LucieInCA [at] aol [dot] com

TobyLauren Burgess said...

What a fantastic read! I just finished A Passion Most Pure, and had to jump online and Google Julie Lessman. I thought the book was fantastic.

I have always read the classics or modern Christian fiction, but I find that so many many authors side-step the REAL issues that REAL people face. The emotions, the temptations, the falls. I so appreciated Julie's forthright approach; the fact that she was never ashamed to tell it like it is.

It has renewed my passion for writing, as well. I began a novel when I was 12, and after sharing the first 21 chapters with a mixed audience, got the feeling that 99% of them felt it was "too much", and to tone it down. I was trying to tell it like it was - especially by the time I was 16 and realizing the real temptations that even a good Catholic girl (oldest of 6, home schooled) could, and did, face.

I think I might go back to that story, and work on it again. Now, at 27, with 3 of my own children, I have new perspective on some of the areas that my young heard could only guess at.

Thanks again for this wonderful interview with Julie, and thank you Julie for your high-calibre writing.

TobyLauren Burgess

Oh, and just one question, Julie - you wouldn't by any chance be RC, would you? Feel free to email back. I am encouraged by you. *smile*